by Norman M. Brown, Ph.D. |
We apologize in advance for the higher-than-usual density of novel ideas in our writings on emotions which arises from the greater sophistication of Silvan Tomkins’ emotional theories compared to popular emotional common sense. Please see the comments section for questions and comments on each of these articles.
Part I. Freud’s guiding goal for investigation and healing of the mind was that the Id should become known to the Ego, so that we humans can exercise more choice and hence conscious responsibility in our thoughts and actions. Pioneering emotional investigator Silvan Tomkins further articulated Freud’s goal to include all the inborn emotions and their combinations. For if we are aware of our emotions and how they are guiding us while or after they occur, we can choose with responsibility for how our attitudes and actions may affect not only other people and ourselves but also plants, animals, earth, water and air on our planet.
EMOTIONAL FLUENCY means opening up more awareness of all the many-colored events we experience to our curious minds. For emotions are the laser-light keys that direct our attention to revealing many secrets that our habits obscure with the dullness of ordinary reality. It is well established that emotions penetrate into the densely woven fabric of memory to selectively illuminate those experiences whose importance was first signaled by emotional intensity. Thus when we expand and intensify our repertoire of emotional awareness we open up new flowers of personal expression to our appreciation, exploration and contemplation. If we share our contemplation of past and present emotional moments with others in a trusting atmosphere we literally plant the seeds of new growth in responding to the events, people, and other living things with which we share our lives.
There are significant differences between the sexes in typical fluency with emotions that form the basis of many problems in personal relationships. Some sex differences may be roughly universal, and there are cultural differences as well. Much of these differences are based on cultural restrictions on emotional expression in public. But much of our awareness of feelings comes via neuronal feedback from our facial expressions to our brains, so shutting down our facial expression of feelings greatly reduces our awareness of what we are feeling. In fact, if we habitually keep certain emotional expressions off of our faces, we may well become functionally unaware of their existence and contribution to our response to the events and surroundings of our lives. If we conceive of emotions as colored spotlights that provide the many colors in which our lives appear to us, then living with some of them turned off or very faint would be like moving partially color-blind through life. Learn more about our workshops